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PDF | A book review of "Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism", by Dan Verton. "Written by former U.S. intelligence officer Dan Verton, Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism investigates how cyber-terrorism could occur, what the . Book Review Computerworld columnist Dan Verton has covered the security beat for several years. He has recently weighed in on the.
The same firm has projects in Asia, including India and Indonesia which were also attacked. Iran is thought to have suffered 60 per cent of the attacks.
Mr Langner said: "It would be an absolute no-brainer to leave an infected USB stick near one of these guys and there would be more than a 50 per cent chance of him pick it up and infect his computer.
The Iranian authorities acknowledged the worm had struck Bushehr and a statement conceded that the plant would come into operation in January, two months later than planned. Elizabeth Katina, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute, said the possibility of a copycat attack on British or American electricity networks or water supplies had been elevated by the release of Stuxnet.
It appears they just did — virtually. And if they did, they also may have expanded our sense of how nations wage war in cyberspace. Attributing credit for Stuxnet is rightly the subject of geopolitical intrigue. Motive, meet opportunity. By late , Stuxnet was popping up globally, including in Iran.
Stuxnet would be a new achievement for a long-running mission.
And what an achievement. All of that could still happen. But this would be the first instance of cyberwarfare aimed at a truly strategic target. But it is to say that we may be getting there.
All this has major implications for U. The new U. That also points to the downside. It is about destroying its targets with utmost determination in military style. But that certainly does send a message. Israel averages about on-line hacking attacks per second every day, according to Assaf Keren, the former project director for Israel's e-Gov portal.
The portal offers a wealth of services for the public at large, and is, among other major sites like the Bank of Israel, considered a prime hacker magnet by Israel's political foes and criminal elements.
Hackers took down the site for two days in early While bank officials said the hackers "inserted propaganda material in Arabic," but they were unable to access financial data and information, which is stored on a separate system.
While the Mossad, Israel Security Agency Shin Bet , military and other entities have their own departments dealing with on-line warfare, and last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu averred that Israel was preparing a top-level response to such attacks.
Taqipour told reporters on Wednesday that the Israeli regime ranks at the top of governments that sponsor various forms of state terrorism, including cyber terror, Mehr news agency reported. He said that the Tel Aviv regime was the symbol of state terrorism, adding that the regime takes the lead in spreading malwares across cyber space.
He added, however, that Iran has taken appropriate counter measures, including the establishment of a cyber command, to control and foil cyber attacks targeting the country. The minister's comments came in response to reports that Israeli military is plotting to wage a major cyber war against Iran by setting up a military cyber command.
The new cyber command, which has been designated as central to 'defense capability' of the Israeli regime, would directly report to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The new command center, supported by the military, has already conducted a series of "soft" espionage missions, including hacking into Iran's version of Facebook and other social networking sites, the report says. A source with close knowledge of the cyber war preparations said that Israel has two principal targets in Iran's cyberspace, which are stopping Tehran's nuclear program and its civil infrastructure.
Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism
It is the second major weaponized virus to turn computers into lethal weapons with devastating destructive power. The original Stuxnet malware was the culmination of a vast technical and espionage effort that had only one target in mind: the Iranian nuclear program.
Its success set back the Iranian nuclear program for years. Experts were also amazed at the depth of information that had been collected on the Iranian program, information that allowed its secure nuclear system to be penetrated so easily and without detection. Much of it, they surmised, had to be done using human rather than computer intelligence agents.
With Duqu that is no longer the case. A major ice storm topples power lines across seven counties and disrupts microwave communications in the Salt Lake City area. It also damages the high-voltage bulk transmission lines in several states, including transmission lines north and south of Salt Lake City. The damage to the transmission system isn't extensive, but the ability to import electricity to the seven-county area is hindered significantly.
The lack of power generation forces authorities to conduct rolling blackouts. That's when the Supervisory Control Data Acquisition systems, which control the power grid, are further damaged by a cyberattack. The source of the disruption is unknown; it could be a hacker, a terrorist, an insider or the result of storm damage.
Regardless, the failure begins to ripple throughout the rest of the regional infrastructure. Press releases are often placed on the websites in an effort to get the organizations point of view into the traditional media. The detailed background information is also very useful for international reporters.
One of Hezbollahs sites specifically addresses journalists, inviting them to interact with the organizations press office via-email. Enemy publics. Efforts to reach enemy publics i.
However, some sites do seem to make an effort to demoralize the enemy by threatening attacks and by fostering feelings of guilt about the enemys conduct and motives. In the process, they also seek to stimulate public debate in their enemies states, to change public opinion, and to weaken public support for the governing regime.
How Terrorists Use the Internet We have identified eight different, albeit sometimes overlapping, ways in which contemporary terrorists use the Internet. Some of these parallel the uses to which everyone puts the Internetinformation gathering, for instance.
Some resemble the uses made of the medium by traditional political organizationsfor example, raising funds and disseminating propaganda. Others, however, are much more unusual and distinctivefor instance, hiding instructions, manuals, and directions in coded messages or encrypted files.
Psychological Warfare Terrorism has often been conceptualized as a form of psychological warfare, and certainly terrorists have sought to wage such a campaign through the Internet. There are several ways for terrorists to do so. For instance, they can use the Internet to spread disinformation, to deliver threats intended to distill fear and helplessness, and to disseminate horrific images of recent actions, such as the brutal murder of the American journalist Daniel Pearl by his captors, a videotape of which was replayed on several terrorist websites.
Terrorists can also launch psychological attacks through cyberterrorism, or, more accurately, through creating the fear of cyberterrorism. Cyberfear is generated when concern about what a computer attack could do for example, bringing down airliners by disabling air traffic control systems, or disrupting national economies by wrecking the computerized systems that regulate stock markets is amplified until the public believes that an attack will happen.
The Internetan uncensored medium that carries stories, pictures, threats, or messages regardless of their validity or potential impactis peculiarly well suited to allowing even a small group to amplify its message and exaggerate its importance and the threat it poses.
Al Qaeda combines multimedia propaganda and advanced communication technologies to create a very sophisticated form of psychological warfare. Osama bin Laden and his followers concentrate their propaganda efforts on the Internet, where visitors to al Qaedas numerous websites and to the sites of sympathetic, aboveground organizations can access prerecorded videotapes and audiotapes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, photographs, and announcements.
Despite the massive onslaught it has sustained in recent yearsthe arrests and deaths of many of its members, the dismantling of its operational bases and training camps in Afghanistan, and the smashing of its bases in the Far Eastal Qaeda has been able to conduct an impressive scare campaign. Since September 11, , the organization has festooned its websites with a string of announcements of an impending large attack on U.
These warnings have received considerable media coverage, which has helped to generate a widespread sense of dread and insecurity among audiences throughout the world and especially within the United States.
Interestingly, al Qaeda has consistently claimed on its websites that the destruction of the World Trade Center has inflicted psychological damage, as well as concrete damage, on the U. The attacks on the Twin Towers are depicted as an assault on the trademark of the U. Parallels are drawn with the decline and ultimate demise of the Soviet Union.
One of bin Ladens recent publications, 5 Terrorism has often been conceptualized as a form of psychological warfare, and certainly terrorists have sought to wage such a campaign through the Internet. Despite the massive onslaught it has sustained in recent years.
But it needs further blows. The young men need to seek out the nodes of the American economy and strike the enemys nodes. Publicity and Propaganda Terrorists now have direct control over the content of their message. The Internet has significantly expanded the opportunities for terrorists to secure publicity.
Until the advent of the Internet, terrorists hopes of winning publicity for their causes and activities depended on attracting the attention of television, radio, or the print media.
These traditional media have selection thresholds multistage processes of editorial selection that terrorists often cannot reach. No such thresholds, of course, exist on the terrorists own websites. The fact that many terrorists now have direct control over the content of their message offers further opportunities to shape how they are perceived by different target audiences and to manipulate their own image and the image of their enemies.
As noted earlier, most terrorist sites do not celebrate their violent activities. Instead, regardless of the terrorists agendas, motives, and location, most sites emphasize two issues: the restrictions placed on freedom of expression and the plight of comrades who are now political prisoners.
These issues resonate powerfully with their own supporters and are also calculated to elicit sympathy from Western audiences that cherish freedom of expression and frown on measures to silence political opposition. Enemy publics, too, may be targets for these complaints insofar as the terrorists, by emphasizing the antidemocratic nature of the steps taken against them, try to create feelings of unease and shame among their foes.
The terrorists protest at being muzzled, it may be noted, is particularly well suited to the Internet, which for many users is the symbol of free, unfettered, and uncensored communication. Terrorist sites commonly employ three rhetorical structures, all used to justify their reliance on violence.
The first one is the claim that the terrorists have no choice other than to turn to violence.
Violence is presented as a necessity foisted upon the weak as the only means with which to respond to an oppressive enemy. While the sites avoid mentioning how the terrorists victimize others, the forceful actions of the governments and regimes that combat the terrorists are heavily emphasized and characterized with terms such as slaughter, murder, and genocide.
The terrorist organization is depicted as constantly persecuted, its leaders subject to assassination attempts and its supporters massacred, its freedom of expression curtailed, and its adherents arrested. This tactic, which portrays the organization as small, weak, and hunted down by a strong power or a strong state, turns the terrorists into the underdog. A second rhetorical structure related to the legitimacy of the use of violence is the demonizing and delegitimization of the enemy.
The members of the movement or organization are presented as freedom fighters, forced against their will to use violence because a ruthless enemy is crushing the rights and dignity of their people or group. The enemy of the movement or the organization is the real terrorist, many sites insist: Our violence is tiny in comparison to his aggression is a common argument.
Terrorist rhetoric tries to shift the responsibility for violence from the terrorist to the adversary, which is accused of displaying its brutality, inhumanity, and immorality. A third rhetorical device is to make extensive use of the language of nonviolence in an attempt to counter the terrorists violent image. Although these are violent organizations, many of their sites claim that they seek peaceful solutions, that their ultimate aim is a diplomatic settlement achieved through negotiation and international pressure on a repressive government.
Most terrorist sites emphasize two issues: the restrictions placed on freedom of expression and the plight of comrades who are now political prisoners. The World Wide Web alone offers about a billion pages of information, much of it free and much of it of interest to terrorist organizations.
Data Mining The Internet may be viewed as a vast digital library. The World Wide Web alone offers about a billion pages of information, much of it freeand much of it of interest to terrorist organizations. Terrorists, for instance, can learn from the Internet a wide variety of 6 details about targets such as transportation facilities, nuclear power plants, public buildings, airports, and ports, and even about counterterrorism measures. Dan Verton, in his book Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyberterrorism , explains that al-Qaeda cells now operate with the assistance of large databases containing details of potential targets in the U.
They use the Internet to collect intelligence on those targets, especially critical economic nodes, and modern software enables them to study structural weaknesses in facilities as well as predict the cascading failure effect of attacking certain systems.
Security: Black Ice : The Invisible Threat of Cyberterrorism by Dan Verton (2003, Hardcover)
According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, speaking on January 15, , an al Qaeda training manual recovered in Afghanistan tells its readers, Using public sources openly and without resorting to illegal means, it is possible to gather at least 80 percent of all information required about the enemy.
The website operated by the Muslim Hackers Club a group that U. Secret Service. The same website offers tutorials in creating and spreading viruses, devising hacking stratagems, sabotaging networks, and developing codes; it also provides links to other militant Islamic and terrorist web addresses. Specific targets that al Qaedarelated websites have discussed include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta; FedWire, the money-movement clearing system maintained by the Federal Reserve Board; and facilities controlling the flow of information over the Internet.
Like many other Internet users, terrorists have access not only to maps and diagrams of potential targets but also to imaging data on those same facilities and networks that may reveal counterterrorist activities at a target site. One captured al Qaeda computer contained engineering and structural features of a dam, which had been downloaded from the Internet and which would enable al Qaeda engineers and planners to simulate catastrophic failures.
In other captured computers, U. Numerous tools are available to facilitate such data collection, including search engines, e-mail distribution lists, and chat rooms and discussion groups. Many websites offer their own search tools for extracting information from databases on their sites.
Word searches of online newspapers and journals can likewise generate information of use to terrorists; some of this information may also be available in the traditional media, but online searching capabilities allow terrorists to capture it anonymously and with very little effort or expense.
Specific targets that al Qaeda related websites have discussed include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta [and] FedWire, the money-movement clearing system maintained by the Federal Reserve Board. Fundraising Like many other political organizations, terrorist groups use the Internet to raise funds. Al Qaeda, for instance, has always depended heavily on donations, and its global fundraising network is built upon a foundation of charities, nongovernmental organizations, and other financial institutions that use websites and Internet-based chat rooms and forums.
The Sunni extremist group Hizb al-Tahrir uses an integrated web of Internet sites, stretching from Europe to Africa, which asks supporters to assist the effort by giving money and encouraging others to donate to the cause of jihad.
Banking information, including the numbers of accounts into which donations can be deposited, is provided on a site based in Germany. The fighters in the Russian breakaway republic of Chechnya have likewise used the Internet to publicize the numbers of bank accounts to which sympathizers can contribute.
[ISN] Black Ice scenario sheds light on future threats to critical systems
One of these Chechen bank accounts is located in Sacramento, California. The IRAs website contains a page on which visitors can make credit card donations. Internet user demographics culled, for instance, from personal information entered in online questionnaires and order forms allow terrorists to identify users with sympathy 7 The IRA's website contains a page on which visitors can make credit card donations.
Internet user demographics.Some of these ways parallel the uses to which everyone puts the Internet—information gathering, for instance. Are there any army camps and is there someone who commands there?
Users who seem most interested in the organizations cause or well suited to carrying out its work are then contacted. Unfortunately, the freedom offered by the Internet is vulnerable to abuse from groups that, paradoxically, are themselves often hostile to uncensored thought and expression.
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Its argument, structure, and lexis seem all quite representative of the con- temporary discourse of cancer prevention and treatment, both specialized and popular cf. Neither Sandwell nor other scholars e. Propaganda and Persuasion. The Internet also grants terrorists a cheap and efficient means of networking. All these theoretical and empirical threads have been recently reviewed and revisited in Cap , a monograph proposing an integrated proxi- mization theory.